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Ice dynamics preceding catastrophic disintegration of the floating part of Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland

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The floating terminal of Jakobshavn Isbræ, the fastest Greenland ice stream, has disintegrated since 2002, resulting in a doubling of ice velocity and rapidly lowering inland ice elevations. Conditions prior to disintegration were modeled using control theory in a plane-stress solution, and the Missoula model of ice-shelf flow. Both approaches pointed to a mechanism that inhibits ice flow and that is not captured by either approach. Jamming of flow, an inherent property of granular materials passing through a constriction (Jakobshavn Isfjord), is postulated as the mechanism. Rapid disintegration of heavily crevassed floating ice accompanies break-up of the ice jam.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756504781829729

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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